WanderCurtis Wine

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Veritas Vineyards and Winery, Virginia ‘as happy as it can be’

The magnificent vista from the sauvignon plots on the high ground at Veritas

I was very keen to visit Veritas. Andrew Hodson, the owner like myself is also an English Doctor. There is a long historical connection with physicians and wine. Amongst many examples is the founder of Penfolds in Australia by Dr Christopher Penfolds who was a member of the society of Apothecaries in London. For more information about this I strongly recommend reading ‘Wine & Medicine: An Enduring Historical Association

Andrew and Patricia bought the land at Veritas 23 years ago and have transformed it into one of the go to destinations in Virginia wine country. Alongside producing supreme quality wines they have onsite luxury accommodation, a lovely restaurant and manage events and weddings. It’s a magnificent property.

Emily Hodson, Winemaker, Veritas Winery

I was lucky enough to be hosted by Emily Hodson, winemaker and daughter of Andrew. It is very much a family run business. Emily’s brother George the general manager also popped in to say hello. We sat over lunch and tried a series of Veritas wines.

After the tasting, Emily took us to explore the land in her 4WD. This led us to the peak of the property at over 1000 feet and to panoramic views over to the blue mountains of the Appalachian range. The Appalachians stretch thousands of miles parallel to the East coast of the United States.

She showed us the Afton mountain gap. This is one of the few gaps in the mountain range which allows for a flow of wind. This helps decide the orientation of the vines on the hilltop. The air flow provides not only a cooling effect from the heat of the Virginian Summer, but also helps to suppress disease which would be prominent in the humid conditions. The Sauvignon Blanc vines were thriving in this environment.

Wines tasted- whites

Veritas Scintilla 2015 sparkling wine

Traditional Method

100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc, dosage 7 g

Aged On lees 7 years. This was the First vintage

Brioche toasted almonds marzipan fresh apple and lemon crisp and refreshing.

Veritas Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Aromatic style, passion fruit. Reductive, cool ferment

Fresh some pyrazine

Grown at higher altitude and benefits from air flow through the Afton mountain gap

Veritas the momentarius collection 2019

Monticello white blend, no rules on what grapes to use or the vilification process

Petit manseng, chardonnay, viognier and sauvignon blanc.

Aromatic Sauvignon Blanc feels the most predominant. Nice balance.

Veritas the momentarius collection 2021

More restrained than 2021 and the petit manseng characteristics come through

Could not make a 2020 vintage as frost destroyed much of the crop in this part of Virginia

Wines tasted -reds

Veritas Cabernet Franc 2009

Bordeaux nose of cedar, tobacco and some aged character coming through, also effects of barrel hints of smoke and chocolate

Soft tannins nicely integrated, fruit dropped out

Initially slight Smokey and sulphurous but this blew off and complexity developed.

Veritas. Cabernet Franc Reserve 2017

As Benoit at Pollak had found the 2017 was a Great vintage. Emily’s description made me laugh out load!

‘As happy as it can be

Delicious ripe cherry a fruit Bomb.

Pot pourri, floral, dry petals, and some dried herbs such as thyme really seductive nose, fabulous.

Veritas Cabernet 2021 franc

Plenty of fruit raspberries, nice balance of oak

More simple candied fruit but delicious easy drinking a bit more Pinot like

Veritas 3 2009

3 winemakers 3 vineyards 3 grapes a collaboration with Veritas, Pollak and King Family

A blend of 3 grapes Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet franc

Fruity fresh, lively, balanced with a Savoury salty mineral element. Chocolate pudding on the finish

Veritas Reserve 2019

Their Flagship wine

Can’t use ,vintners reserve, name due to name protection rights. I suggested Emily’s Reserve which went down well.

Violet chews, floral elements came through.

Veritas Petit Verdot 2019

Aromas of blueberry , Intense colour, deep ruby

Chunky dark thick skinned berries

A bit tight closed needs a decant nice rounded tannins, food wine, some violet notes

Lilies floral improved. Tried over the next few days whist in Washington DC and became more complex.

Veritas Petit Verdot 2017

Blueberry jam lots of delicious fruit a great top vintage clearly evident

Veritas Petit Manseng 2014

Dessert wine Great retention of acidity

Nuttiness slight oxidation 85g/l per litre sugar

Lovely complex most of candied pineapple and hazelnuts very ripe apples beeswax

Really well made, Jurancon like dessert wine

This tasting highlighted the potential in Virginia to establish some novel grape varieties such as Petit Manseng.

This grape in many ways is highly suited here. It ripens late leading to high sugar but retains its acidity

The thick skin helps with disease resistance and the high skin to pulp ratio intensifies flavours.

The 100% petit Verdot rarely found in the Old world seems to work here with the warmer climate.

It was interesting to try along with traditional varieties some more unusual wines such as dry Petit Manseng and 100% petit Verdot.

I managed to pick out some of Emily’s personal characteristics in the wines, such as the violet aromas from the Cabernet Franc and the blueberry in the 2009 Petit Verdot which has parcels of grapes grown on heavier clay soils.

It was also lovely to see the collaboration and friendliness between the winemakers exemplified here by the Veritas 3.

Matthieu Finot, Winemaker, King Family Vineyards

French winemaker Matthieu very kindly networked me in with local winemakers which facilitated my arrangements in Virginia.

I really like the way the winemakers join forces in the wine industry. This is something I have found throughout the world and is a joy to see. In so many walks of life people work against each other, more interested in bettering their own aims. Not so in the wine industry. It’s about sharing ideas, sharing innovations and helping the industry as a whole.

Matthieu was a shining example of this. He is from Northern Rhone and has a vineyard with his brother. He has worked in Bandol, Rhone and also Burgundy.

Matthieu proudly showing off his magnificent range of King Family wines

The wine industry is still relatively new here despite the planting of vines dating back hundreds of years by Thomas Jefferson at his Monticello estate. Matt is carrying on with developments and is planting Nebbiolo here. His favourite wines are Pinot and Syrah, but it’s too warm and wet here and the Clay soils don’t lend to those varieties Cabernet franc red does best being more resilient. The Soil is not right for Cabernet Sauvignon You can also do a lot with Cabernet Franc, such as Rose dessert wine, light style red and more full bodied red. It doesn’t have the acidity of the Loire and doesn’t show the methoxypyrazines shown in the old world. Matthieu wanted to produce a dry rose when he first came here. There was Some scepticism doing a dry rose now it’s the biggest seller.

Wines tasted, reds

King family Crose

100% merlot medium colour 1 day skin contact

Their biggest seller, Sold in cans too

Nice red fruits and balance

King family Petit manseng

I tried a dry petit manseng at Veritas too

High acidity, some honey and nutty notes and candied pineapple nicely crafted

Kings family vineyard Brut Blanc de Blanc 2015 100%Chardonnay

7 years ageing on Lees

Chalky Lemon apple crisp fresh

Kings family vineyard Viognier 2021

Watermelon apricot bitter finish

Not same oily texture as others. Harvested a little early so a fresher style

Kings family vineyard Chardonnay 2021

Barrel fermented with malolactic 25% new oak light citrus fruits fresh smokiness oak

Kings family vineyard mountain plains 2021

A blend of Chardonnay petit manseng and viognier, third each

Petit manseng does well in the Basque Country humid and clay in Jurançon

Works well here too maintain acidity and high brix. Very high acid good

18 months barrel, pineapple nuts some oxidation

Kings family vineyard Viognier Orange wine

Skin contact Viognier orange wine

Fermented like a red wine with punch down and malolactic

Very interesting complex nose Spicy nutmeg saffron orange, clove

Tannins but soft, served at room temperature fine but bitter tannins

Big wine interesting

Kings family vineyard Cab franc

Light style

Harvest early 12.3% wants fresh light style

Tuesday evening pizza night wine simple fresh light fruity

Bit savoury slightly vegetal

Kings family vineyard Meritage 2019

Flagship red which sells the most

18 Months in barrel

Merlot, petit Verdot, cab franc and Malbec blend

Needs time to develop slight bitter

Kings family vineyard Meritage 2008

Matthieu pulled something a bit older out of the cellar, Unfiltered wine

Showing some Bret horsiness with some fruit and good structure

Kings family vineyard Petit verdot 2019

Blue fruit, deep colour lots tannins full bodied

This tasting highlighted how well some varieties are doing here, such as viognier and petit verdot

I like the style of Cabernet Franc less pyrazined and more fruit forward which can be very green and herbaceous in places such as Chile and also Bordeaux but here seems to be a nice balance between new and old world. In the hands of gifted winemakers such as Matthieu it was also interesting to see the range of wines made and the embracing of new styles such as the viognier Orange wine.

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Maison Jaboulet Aîné, The wines of the northern Rhone tasting 23rd May 2013

Tasting a range of the wines of Northern Rhone the overall delicacy and freshness of these wines comes across with several great recent vintages there are great wines to be found at every level.

Hosted by Marie Cordonier of Maison Jaboulet Aîné and attended by Marcel Orford Williams, chief buyer of the Wine Society & fellow  Crouch End resident.

Bistro Aix, Crouch End

La Chapelle

La Chapelle

The wines:

Le Grand Pompee St Joseph Blanc 2010 Approx price: £14

Served as an aperitif. Nice floral nose, good creamy texture in the mouth, great balance and good length. 100% Marsanne. Lovely.

Condrieu Les Grands Amandiers 2008 (Viognier) Approx price: £43

Smokey nose, peaches lurking underneath, more oily texture, stone fruit, medium length. We tasted the 2010 at Maison Jaboulet in Tain L’Hermitage which was floral and fruity and had greater freshness.

Hermitage Le Chevailier de Sterimberg 2008 Approx price: £44

Served together with the H Sterimberg with pate starter.

Named  after the knight crusader Gaspard de Sterimberg who established a hermitage on the hill. This blend of approx. 70% marsanne and 30% rousanne is sensational.  A compact and concentrated nose of pear flesh with a whiff of wood, on the palate again tight complex flavours mixing fruit and nuttiness: apricot stones. This wine has a beautiful mouth feel and great length, still a baby.  At Maison Jaboulet in Tain L’Hermitage we tasted the 2010 which was even more concentrated, had more vigour and freshness and delicious note.  One of the wines of the trip Excellent!

St Joseph Le Grand Pompee Rouge 2010 Approx price: £15

Nice fruity peppery nose, sweet black fruit, savoury notes emerging, medium body, more fruit great lift and freshness, reasonably sustained.  This is good now but with a few years in bottle will fill out with more savoury substance.  From granite soils.  Great value from a great year.   All the 2010 wines we tasted on our trip were stunning with great clean fruit, balance and freshness.  Marcel also felt that one could hardly go wrong buying this vintage.

Cornas Grandes Terrasses: 2009 Approx price: £27

Served with Confit de Canard main course.

Decanted for about an hour this delicious fruit driven wine had a nose of really ripe blackberry with a touch of chocolate almost new world in its exuberance. Concentrated in the mouth packed with more sweet fruit, powerful, plenty of good tannin and enough balance. 2009 was another great year but riper and this has a good future.

Croze Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 2007 Approx price: £23

A long standing favourite of mine this Croze is special.  Marcel explained that it is one of the oldest vineyards in the area, established by Jaboulet and pre-dating the appellation. Although received wisdom is that Croze from the hilly area north of Hermitage is generally the best this vineyard on the plain consistently produces very fine wine because of a subtle elevation and difference in soil make up.  Whatever the reason I love it and have found that it is best to forget about it for at least 6 – 7 years at which point it begins to sing.

The 2007 is approachable now with nice fruit reflecting yet another good year in the Rhone (though more so in the south). I would still tuck this away for another couple of years though and have resisted opening any bottled of my case bought EP from the Wine Society.

Served side by side with the Cornas the contrast is clear this is all elegance and restraint in comparison to the exuberance of the Cornas. Black cherry, touch of coffee, white pepper on the nose, still a little tight on the palate but then more black fruit, spice and characteristic great vigour from the acidity, medium long.  Promises wonderful drinking.  (currently10% discount at Bibendum)

Hermitage La Petite Chapelle 2007 Approx price: £60

In Tain this was a little closed by having been decanted for a couple of hours it was much more expressive. Served blind with the Chapelle 01 it was fairly clear which was the more youth full wine. Nice fruit on the nose, a scented nose with whiff of flowers and savoury notes underneath. Lots going on in the mouth, really fresh sweet fruit, savoury note making a vibrant mix, long and exciting.  A super wine which will no doubt develop beautifully.

Hermitage La Chapelle 2001 Approx price: £94

On the nose, more mushroom, earth and secondary flavours but still with baked fruit tart sweetness.  On the palate amazing bright acidity and plenty of spicy fruit. Tastes a lot younger than the bouquet even though it is 12 years old. Marcel says this was a tannic year that has taken a long time to come around but it now is coming into its own.

Hermitage La Chapelle 1991

An amazing treat brought by Marcel to share with us.  And what a demonstration in what Hermitage is all about.  Marcel feels that the true expression of Hermitage is a blend of the different vineyards (Michel Chapoutier would disagree but diversity of opinion is the spice of life) and La Chapelle is mostly from Le Meal which produces riper more opulent fruit with some wine from Le Bessards which is more tannic and structured.

This wine at over 22 years is from a very good vintage overshadowed by the 1990 and 1989 vintages. Decanted for about half an hour un-agitated the nose begins as sweet celery sticks then a little soy sauce.  With air a world of aromas opens up each arriving hot on the heels of the other in that way that complex great wines have of continually giving more and more: confit de canard, candied fruits, horse leather, orange peel, oriental spices, baked blackberry pie all this in the mouth too but with great core of freshness and a salty tang. Amazing persistence and vigour, hauntingly lingering in the mouth.  Some wines cerebral and others sensual this is both, simply outstanding.

Thanks to Marie Cordonier of Maison Jaboulet for helping to organise the evening and being such a great host.

Also big thanks to Marcel Orford Williams (Wine Society) for sharing his knowledge to give such detail and colour to the evening and also for sharing this wonderful wine.

Finally we were as always well looked after by the team at http://www.bistroaix.co.uk/ serving delicious french cuisine.

These and other wines of Maison Jaboulet are available at: www.thewinesociety.com

And http://www.bibendumfinewine.com/retail